State program helps bring life back into our downtowns

Michigan Main Street Program, revitalizing our communities.

What do you think of when someone says Main Street? Do you think of your favorite community event, local shops and restaurants, and that warm feeling of home? That is the nostalgic feeling that the Michigan Main Street Center is striving to create with their Main Street placemaking program. Communities are being encouraged to participate in the comprehensive revitalization effort that targets downtowns and traditional neighborhood commercial districts to encourage the return of economic vitality.

The Main Street Program recognizes that the downtown business district of a community has traditionally been its heart, and the health of a community is dependent upon the vitality of this core district.

The Main Street Program is a four-point approach to economic revitalization and historic preservation for traditional downtowns that focus on key areas such as economic restructuring, organization, design and promotions. Created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the program is designed to guide communities in a grassroots effort to reinvigorate historic downtowns. Driven by volunteer efforts, the program can create an atmosphere of vitality and energy in downtowns, leading to real and lasting change.

Michigan State University Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) works closely with communities to help them through the Main Street Program process. It is a timely commitment with lots of steps but the results can be monumental for community seeking assistance. In the NLEA region we have four communities that have been involved with Michigan Main Street Program. The Village of Central Lake, City of Charlevoix and the City of East Jordan are currently at the Associate Level and Boyne City is at the Master community level.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Michigan Main Street Program or how to begin the application process, Contact our specialist at or 231-582-6482.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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